Today’s U.S. Army doesn’t look anything like the Army of even a decade ago, and that’s a very good thing. For starters, our troops are safer now because of huge advances in force protection.
On top of that, technology is giving ever-smaller groups of men greater “power projection,” which the U.S. Department of Defense defines as a nation’s ability to “apply all or some of its elements of national power – political, economic, informational, or military – to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces… to respond to crises, contribute to deterrence and enhance regional stability.”
And now, the use of robots is about to give power projection a quantum leap forward.
An Unstoppable Robot Militia
Of course, robots are already being used by the Army, especially to deal with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Early in the Iraq war, IEDs were killing soldiers, destroying equipment, and making travel inside Iraq difficult.
But today, the standard TALON robot is used to identify and eliminate IEDs. In fact, TALON robots have been so effective in military operations that they’re now used in chemical, biological, and nuclear detection, and even as part of HAZMAT units nationwide. Though unarmed, TALON robots have proven their resourcefulness.
Better yet, they’re durable. During one engagement in Iraq, a TALON robot was blown off the roof of a Humvee, only to land in a river. Sometime later, the robot was driven via remote control out of the river and was retrieved on the bank.
The Next Logical Step
Given the success of the unarmed TALON, the U.S. Army has decided to push ahead with armed robots, mirroring the progression we’ve seen with unmanned drones. (Drones were first used for reconnaissance, but they’re now routinely used in the projection of lethal force.)
The powerful and combat-ready Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) robot has added target acquisition to its duties, in addition to reconnaissance and surveillance missions. MAARS can “man” forward positions in remote areas where personnel are currently unable to monitor, or where it’s too dangerous to send soldiers.
These robots will play a critical role in the Army’s plan to draw down the number of troops in uniform. According to a briefing given by General Robert Cone, head of the service’s Training and Doctrine Command, the Army is considering reducing the size of the brigade combat team from about 4,000 soldiers to 3,000. The Army would replace the lost soldiers with robots and unmanned platforms.
“I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force,” Cone said. He added that he also has “clear guidance to rethink” the size of the nine-man infantry squad.
Could We Live to See Skynet?
The military’s technological revolution is happening so quickly that it’s nearly impossible for an individual to keep up with it. But don’t worry – at Capitol Hill Daily, we’ve been diligently following the changes for months. And we’re using what we learn to recommend the defense and technology stocks most likely to benefit. In fact, they’ve become the cornerstone of our extremely successful National Treasure Portfolio.
But most importantly, our military can now project more power with fewer men than at any time in our history. That’s great news for our soldiers. But I wonder whether Skynet isn’t far from becoming a reality…